Detroit Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya suffered from what appeared to be a major elbow injury as he exited the game in the eighth inning.

Zumaya, who is known for his high-velocity pitches that frequent the 100 mph mark, said he heard a pop in his throwing arm after his last pitch of the game against Michael Young.

The Tigers went on to win the game against the Minnesota Twins 7-5.

Zumaya has gone through two consecutive seasons in which he was forced to miss a lengthy amount of the season due to injuries. In 2007, Zumaya missed nearly half the season after dislocating his right middle finger, and in 2008 he only pitched 50 games following a stress fracture in his right shoulder.

To say that this is a major blow to a Tigers’ bullpen, that has been absolutely dominant, would be an understatement. Zumaya has a 2.58 ERA, 11 holds, and 34 strikeouts this season, which puts the Tigers in an interesting predicament in finding a worthy replacement.

Alfredo Figaro seems to be the most viable option. In 2009 he contributed to the Tigers’ pitching rotation by adding 23 holds and 16 strikeouts.

Currently, Figaro is with AAA Toledo, but expect Jim Leyland to make some move by the end of this week.

Maintaining the rhythm the Tigers bullpen has going will definitely require Fu-Te Ni, Phil Coke, Eddie Bonine, and Jose Valverde to step up their game.

Zumaya was scheduled to have an MRI on his right arm this morning since the extent of his injury hasn’t been identified, although it is most likely a dislocated elbow.

Elbow dislocations can take anywhere from two to eight weeks to fully heal and that is not good news for the Tigers who are in the middle of a heated AL Central race.

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